The old saying goes, you are what you eat—I would argue, you are what you ate, ate.
There is a big difference between grass-fed meat, and the run of the mill processed stuff we call food. There is also a difference between animals that are grass-finished and ones that are only fed grass in early years and then get supplemented with grains from traditional feedlots after a few months.
We are not aiming for perfect, so any grass-fed meat will suffice.
I Go Grass-Fed for a Number of Reasons:
- Humanely Raised
- Omega-3 to Omega-6 Ratio
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
- Antioxidant Rich
This disturbing statement comes from a study on the By-product Feeds For Alabama Beef Cattle. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t think cows are supposed to eat candy, let alone stay in a claustrophobic enclosure for a majority of their lives while eating food that will make them super fat, super quickly.
Come to think of it, we are no different from cows that are grain-fed from feedlots. We stay indoors all day, stuffing ourselves full of crap we call food, getting fatter and fatter, until eventually we die of diseases related to metabolic and cardiovascular conditions.
Cows that are grass-fed are generally living in better conditions. The simple fact that grass-fed cows get to feed on the natural pasture, roam outside in the sunshine and be happy (obviously until they get eaten) is important.
You don't have to be a perfect vegetarian, vegan or pescetarian to make a difference. Start with going local. Aim for quality. Bull & Bush Meat Merchants (South Africa) supply grass-fed beef that have no growth hormones or antibiotics. I try and support them as much as I can, obviously sometimes I simply can't get my hands on grass-fed meat, but then I usually cut down.
Why The Omega-3 to Omega-6 Ratio is Important
I’m sure you are familiar with the importance of omega-3 in our diets. Eating fatty fish like salmon (preferably wild caught) and supplementing with Krill Oil should ensure you obtain a decent amount of omega-3 in the diet.
Why is this important? While having omega-3 supplements may be good and well, the fact is, the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is even more important. If your ratio is favoring the omega-6 side—if I had to guess, probably a third of the population—it means you are prone to inflammatory responses.
As Mark Sisson said, it’s not the fact that the conventional feedlot system produces higher omega-6 content, it’s that the omega-3 fatty acids are not even present in the first place (4). And if you don't know who Mark is, follow this link. This 63 year old guy is pushing the boundaries on the limitations we place on age. I always hear older people making excuses about their age, work and other trivial commitments—the fact is, health should be your number one priority. If you want another reference among thousands, check Jerzy out.
I can’t stress the importance of having a good omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. The general premise is 2:1, however, ideally we want a 1:1. Majority of Americans—and if I had to guess, South Africans too—have a 30:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.
The reason I mentioned "South Africans too," is every day I draw visual similarities between South Africa and America. Think of Krispy Kreme, Burger King and even Popeyes chicken arriving soon. It's nuts! Having lived in small town called Oskaloosa in Iowa for a year, I found out just how hard it was to eat proper food—never mind stay healthy. While traveling to golf tournaments, gas station meals were normal.
High Amounts of CLA
This may seem counterintuitive considering that synthetic trans-fat is like injecting your veins with plaque -- the difference is CLA is naturally occuring in the body.
CLA is mainly found in beef, butter and full-fat dairy products. Quality fat that supplies ample amounts of CLA is key for a sustainable life. One that involves energy on-tap and vitality and NO medications (unless you're literally dying, get help, don't be stupid).
CLA is supposedly also a strong cancer-buster and effective weight-loss candidate. It makes you wonder why society has vilified fat. I understand vilifying trans-fatty, plaque building, artery blocking processed flim-flam—but, high quality saturated fat from grass-fed animals? Absolute bonkers.
With the multifarious amounts of toxins like mold, alcohol, LED light and processed food we are exposed to on a daily basis, I’m sure antioxidants—at the very least—won’t harm you.
The beauty? You can enjoy a juicy grass-fed fillet with veggies to achieve this. I know I reached a level of well-being when I would go on a short holiday eating “normally” and would actually miss a good steak and veggies.
I used to eat chicken breast and salad daily trying to lose weight. I lost it, but felt like shit, and gained it back just as fast. Being fat adapted has changed the game for me. I have more energy than ever, I have managed to maintain my weightless and I feel oddly satiated for long periods, even after a 24 hour fast.
I realize grass-fed meat can be more expensive compared to traditional meat, however, I always preach quality over quantity. One does not need to be consuming tons of protein to get the full range of benefits. In fact, eating to much protein can kick you out of ketosis (being fat adapted).
The fat on grass-fed meat usually has a yellowish color to it, this signifies high amounts of caratoniods which means the meat is nutrient dense. There is also less intramuscular fat compared to feedlot meat.
I personally believe grass-fed beef has a better taste—although, this is likely to be anecdotal based on research I’ve done. I think, similar to education opening doors to you, so does doing your own pleasurable research and understanding. Now that I know about the health benefits and humane aspects from grass-fed beef, in the back of my mind when I eat processed meat, subconsciously I am not enjoying it as much as I should.
Even for most of you that are vegan, think about what you are purchasing. There is a lot of crap out there. For instance, many vegan protein powders contain high amounts of yellow pea-protein. Pea-protein isn't ideal, rather look for hemp protein as a substitute.
I also understand that many individuals can't afford to buy grass-fed, organic or even quality produce. At the very least, consider how you cook your food. I appreciate the positive lifestyle changes associated with banting and ketogenic diets—but, the thing I despise is when people substitute simple carbs for heavily processed, carcinogenic food like biltong (beef jerky), sausages and even burnt bacon. I used to do this thinking it was healthy. Substituting one thing for another equally as harmful thing is just stupid.
Where to buy Grass-fed Meat in South Africa (That I Know Of So Far)
- (1) http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1237/ANR-1237.pdf
- (2) https://blog.bulletproof.com/the-health-benefits-of-grass-fed-meat-part-2/
- (3) https://blog.bulletproof.com/grass-fed-meat-part-1/
- (4) http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-differences-between-grass-fed-beef-and-grain-fed-beef/
As a caveat I am obviously not a doctor, nutritionist or expert. I simply have a passion for sharing ideas, content, hacks and knowledge to inspire and motivate individuals. What works for me might not work for you. Consult your doctor before making any drastic dietry changes.